Fishermen say one of Britain’s last oyster beds could be destroyed by a proposed extension to a windfarm.
They claim cabling that runs out to the offshore farm generates heat, attracting oyster-eating starfish.
The fishermen in Whitstable, Kent accuse wind farm giants Vattenfall of ignoring their concerns.
One of them, Graham West, who supplies oysters to leading restaurants, said: ‘Studies show how how wind farms attract starfish that eat oysters. They will wipe out most of the oyster population here and ruin our tourist industry.’
He added: ‘Vattenfall should have come to the fishermen of Whitstable and asked us what the least damaging place for the wind farm is.
‘I supply native oysters to 14 Michelin-starred restaurants every week. What will happen to my livelihood if I can no longer do that?
‘We need to hear more about the potential problem with starfish. If the research is wrong, fine. But if it is correct it could wipe out our native industry and destroy Whitstable tourism in one hit.’
As well as supplying the restaurant trade, the fishermen also put oysters and other shellfish up for sale along the harbour front at Whitstable and they are a famous attraction for visitors.
Vattenfall has begun a public consultation on adding 17 turbines to the 30 already on the Kentish Flats farm. The company said it had agreed in principle ‘to pay compensation to fishermen for any economic loss during wind farm and cable installation’.
It added that its investigations suggest the farm and the cables have not led to a rise in starfish numbers.
Vattenfall project manager Dr Goran Loman said: ‘Our extensive investigations suggest the wind farm and the export cable have not caused an increase in the number of starfish in the area or along the cable since installation in 2005.
‘But we will continue to monitor the situation.
‘What the science agrees on is that, when there is disturbance to the seabed, there can be an increase in food for starfish and this can lead to an increase in the local population.
‘We have not been involved in any activity that would disturb the seabed in any significant way since 2005, when the existing wind farm was installed.’
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